December 10, 2008

All about Jesse Ed Davis

Jesse Ed Davis

Guitar Hero’s Guitar HeroThe term "musician's musician" gets bandied about a lot, but in the case of the late Jesse Ed Davis, "guitar hero's guitar hero" might be more accurate. His tasty slide on Taj Mahal's rendition of "Statesboro Blues" provided the blueprint for the Allman Brothers' later version; he recorded with three of the four Beatles and was in the house band for George Harrison's Concert For Bangla Desh; when Eric Clapton wrote "Hello Old Friend" he deferred to Davis to supply the lyrical slide; and when a budding blues man named Pete Anderson heard Jesse Ed's country licks on Taj's souped-up take of "Six Days On The Road," it set the course for his fruitful association with Dwight Yoakam.

After playing on Taj Mahal's first three classic albums, Davis amassed a resume of sessions that included Albert and B.B. King, Harry Nilsson, Gene Clark, Leonard Cohen, Neil Diamond, Arlo Guthrie, and Rod Stewart, as well as standout solos on Bob Dylan's "Watching The River Flow" and Jackson Browne's "Doctor My Eyes." Of the latter, guitarist David Grissom says, "The solos were a huge influence on me--such expressive playing and beautiful, pure tone. I love the way he built the solos and the way the band played with him."

In the early '70s, Davis released three solo albums, Jesse Davis, Ululu, and Keep Me Comin'--all now collectors items, with heavyweights like Leon Russell, Dr. John, Eric Clapton, and Gram Parsons returning the favor and accompanying him. The first two albums, recently issued on a single CD by Wounded Bird Records, offer even more evidence of Davis' incredible versatility.

A full-blooded Kiowa Indian, Davis played in country star Conway Twitty's band in his native Oklahoma before moving to Los Angeles and quickly picking up session work with fellow Oklahomans, backing Gary Lewis.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Documentary Touts Jesse Ed Davis.

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